Thursday, June 11, 2009

Pollution

Many big cities have an impenetrable cloud of visible brown air around them. It smells bad. Also, the increase in carbon dioxide has unwanted side effects. Let's come up with solutions.

Plant/Algae Tunnel
We force-convect the air across a huge tunnel full of plants, who absorb the pollution. The cleaned air is then accelerated into the city.
Advantages: Cleans all pollutants, and decreases carbon footprint
Disadvantage: Plants need light. Also, must remove dead plants. Expensive maintenance. Plants edibility is questionable.

Sharper-Image Device
"Powers through even the thickest smoke!" So we have a large network of these, maintaining one per minute. Maintenance consists of unplugging the device, wiping the pollution off, then reassembling and plugging back in.
Advantage: Portable
Disadvantage: Excessive energy usage, expensive, maintenance crew eventually drops dead of exhaustion or requires expensive multiple shifts, does nothing for carbon dioxide, cartloads of dirty, ruined cloths.

Water Tunnel
All air is inhaled by a vacuum system, then bubbled through a large body of water.
Advantage: Cheap
Disadvantage: Rapidly saturates, stops working

Not polluting in the first place
Cars, factories, campfires, cigarettes, and anything that in any way smells bad is hereby banned by the department of STFU. Pollution will be cleaned away after the next rainstorm.
Advantages: Cheap, Fines pay for everything and then some, carbon footprint eliminated
Disadvantages: Radically decreased quality of life, infinite whining, severe economic damage

Scrubbers
By attaching extra equipment to factories, cars, etc, the most noxious part of their pollution does not reach the air
Advantages: Pollution reduced by 99%
Disadvantages: Carbon output unaffected. Who pays for the scrubbers? (Whoever does probably resents it.)

Better Energy sources
Fusion power, electric engines, and so on, allow for the same activity to occur without the smoke and carbon.
Advantages: Infinitely awesome, carbon footprint eliminated
Disadvantage: Requires technologies not yet invented

Mass Transit
Trains and Buses and other high density people movers replace cars.
Advantages: Moves lots of people, easily retrofitted with better energy sources
Disadvantages: Does not necessarily run when a person needs to travel

Enormous fan
Ummm...make a fan with fins miles long, point it at the ocean, and blast the foul air away from the city in an enormous gale.
Advantage: Extremely cool looking
Disadvantages: Excessive energy use, large chance of property damage, chance of people and pets being blown out to sea or otherwise injured. Chance of pollution-cloud blowing back into the city when the fan is turned off, ruining the whole exercise, excessively crazy

Seed Rainclouds
When it rains, the rain absorbs the pollution. We can send planes into the clouds with chemicals that cause it to rain. Yes, we can totally do this right now.
Advantage: Effective
Disadvantage: But then you'd have to make it rain basically all the time. Wouldn't that be inconvenient, wet, and annoying? Also, all the pollution would wind up in the ocean, which would be bad.

One of these alone isn't going to solve the problem, and any one of them will cost quite a bit. But two or three of these combined should end the pollution problem in the big cities.

2 comments:

Stephanie J. B. said...

Lol I love the disadvantages for just not polluting: infinite whining. Sad that that's true. I think people are beginning to realize that the pollution is screwing us over and isn't going to get better... we need a 12 step program or something.

themadengineer said...

Much of that whining would actually be justified, as living a pollution free existence on current technology and infrastructure would be extremely miserable.
Can't use your car. Not enough power to run your computer. Very little electricity. Mass transit only in areas with hydroelectric or nuclear power plants. 99% of the things you buy in stores are no longer available. Here's your hoe and a packet of seeds, get to sustenance farming. It would be a major step down in standards of living, to say the least.
In urban China, many cities are grotesquely polluted from massive industrialization and low regulation. I can't blame them -- 30 years ago they were poorer than Somalia. The money to clean up the area is still in process of being earned. So things could get much worse before being forced to be better.
One can clean pollution from two ends. One is to cause less of it (Smokestack capping, cleaner production, etc), and the other is to absorb existing pollution (more trees, processing stations, etc). Both ends at once would be best.
So the best system would be many systems, as this would cause people the least inconvenience and expense. Of course, some of the ideas I listed here are saner than others. The Giant Fan is just asking for trouble.

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